May
09
2012

All the walleye are dead, and things just ain’t like they used to be

Walleye take things so literally
Walleye take things so literallyCourtesy USFWS
Well, to be fair, the walleye are not all dead, nor are they in imminent danger of totally dying off.

But I think we can all agree that things just ain’t like they used to be.

I mean, you used to be able to marry your horse, if it was a good horse. Can’t do that anymore.

Music used to be more fearsome, with bass so impressive it would permanently damage your eyeballs. Now it’s used in romantic comedies and elevators, and bass is so unimpressive that one often finds baby mice asleep in one’s subwoofer.

The trees didn’t used to be so sassy.

And the lakes stayed icier longer back in the day.

That last one is real. They’re all real, of course, on some level. But the last one is something we can document.

See, for the last 30 years, the ice has been melting from Minnesota lakes earlier and earlier each year. There have almost certainly been exceptions, but that’s the general trend; climate in the state (and around the world) has been changing, and one of the implications of that is that spring is coming earlier to lakes.

What does that mean? Well, for me, it means that I can start dumping trash into the lakes earlier, which is good for me. It tends to build up to dangerously high levels in my house over the winter, and the earlier I can get it out, the better.

And it means a lot for the ecosystems of the lakes, and for people who are into those ecosystems. Because certain kinds of fish thrive or struggle in certain lake conditions, the kinds of fish we can expect to see in the state will change. Tullibee and lake trout prefer colder water, so they will likely become scarce in most of the state. Pike and walleye (bringing it back to the title!) may do better in some cases, with a longer growing season, but that will probably be limited to the northern part of the state. In central and southern lakes, overall warmer water will lead to stress on the fish, and de-icing before the lakes have warmed up will hurt the walleye population (which can hatch before their food supplies become abundant in such cases.)

It’s interesting, because this isn’t an “If you don’t stop doing ____, then _____ will happen.” _____ is already happening (climate change), so it’s just a matter of getting used to the idea of the world being a different place. Eventually, “normal” may go back to what was normal fifty years ago, but climate is a long game, and trends suggest that you’ll be fishing for different stuff at different times in the year in different places.

Hopefully that’s cool with you, because it doesn’t matter if it is or not. Like how music just used to be more fearsome, and trees used to be more polite, things have changed, and they ain’t changing back any time soon.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

JGordon, are those music bass you speak of small-mouthed or large-mouthed? Striped, maybe? No wait - they must be rock bass. That would make the most sense. Sorry to bother you.

posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 3:42pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Very tunny, mdr.

posted on Fri, 05/11/2012 - 2:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

true

posted on Fri, 05/11/2012 - 9:38am

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